Fred Dryer

With a semblance of familiarity with the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, one can be forgiven for thinking of blonde surfing types when hearing a reference to the city of Lawndale. Inland from the communities in Los Angeles County that actually hug the beachfronts, Lawndale’s surfing devotees could find cheaper housing than that offered on the beach itself. However, for any football fan, a mention of “Lawndale” and “blonde surfing types” immediately brings to mind College Football Hall Of Fame defensive end Fred Dryer. He mentioned his first introduction to football was watching and gazing at the L.A. Rams wearing the two tone painted yellow “V” horn.   Focusing his efforts on the gridiron rather than in the waves, Dryer was a standout at Lawndale High School and chose the Riddell gray two bar over the off white style masks because the Adams looked fake.  At this point we realized that Charles and Genevieve passed on the Helmet Hut chromosome with Fred’s DNA.


Perhaps a bit thin at 6’6” to begin his collegiate career at one of the major West Coast universities. His display of hard-charging defensive play in 1965-66 at El Camino Community College in Torrance Ca. and an increase in muscular weight to approximately 230 pounds earned him entry to their Athletic Hall Of Fame. In helping Fred with his career collection the El Camino helmet was certainly the toughest.  When Fred said “I know for a fact we used dull light blue paint” and with conformation from Ray Southstone, we realized this was going to be a first.  Tweaking the paint here, dulling additives there and several swatches and year books back and forth... we got it.  Our last request on this helmet came back with the reply OH, NO NEED TO BEND THE MASK...THANKS FOR THE INVITE INTO "ULTIMATE REALISM"


Fred was ardently recruited to San Diego State by their defensive coordinator John Madden. San Diego State was considered to be “small time” by some on the California coast because it had a “Small College” rating instead of a Major College designation like its Pacific Eight Conference neighbors. However, all of the big time schools also knew that San Diego State was extremely dangerous and avoided scheduling them at any cost. Ranked number one in the country after quarterback Don Horn led the squad to an 11-0 in 1966, it was an attractive choice for many California bred athletes who knew just how good the program was under head coach Don Coryell.

Dryer entered San Diego State and played in 1967 and ’68, sharing the field with future pros wide receiver Haven Moses and defensive back Nate Wright. Transferring in at the same time was 6’2”, 220 pound defensive tackle Carl Weathers who spent 1970 and 1971 with the Oakland Raiders as a back up linebacker and special teams performer. Weathers of course made a greater impact off the field as an actor, starring in the early Rocky movies, Predator, and other action-adventures. In ’67, Dryer led the defense while Moses was the spearhead of the offense and the Aztecs’ 10-1 mark again found them ranked as the number one Small College team in the nation. Filled out to a lean and muscular 240 pounds, Dryer was often unstoppable and the pros scouted him with enthusiasm. While the offense grabbed the headlines, Dryer and his defensive mates played second fiddle to the tune of another undefeated season, going 9-0-1 in 1968. Coryell of course would take his wide-open passing attack, dubbed “Air Coryell” to both the Cardinals and Chargers with great results while assistants Madden, Joe Gibbs, Ernie Zampese, Claude Gilbert, Jim Hanifan, and Rod Dowhower gained their own fame as collegiate or NFL head coaches or long time coordinators. Dryer had an outstanding senior season, named to the Little All American team and earning the opportunity to play in the post-season East West Shrine Game, Hula Bowl, and College All Star Game. His slashing style later earned him entry to the College Football Hall Of Fame and he could look with pride upon his collegiate career at San Diego State where he helped the squad tally a 19-1-1 record.

The New York Giants first-round draft pick, Dryer started as a rookie and was named to the Pro Bowl for the 1970 season. He was an immediate impact player who led the team in sacks for three consecutive seasons but was perhaps looked at with some suspicion by the conservative Giants organization. Described by Sports Illustrated as “a free-wheeling free-thinker who for two seasons lived anywhere his Volkswagen minibus happened to be parked,” he seemed to be unhappy in New York and was often portrayed as seeking a “hippie lifestyle” that included traveling around the country in his van and eating a vegetarian diet.

Dryer got his wish to return to California though it came in a round-about manner. He was first traded to the Patriots in February of 1972 in exchange for three draft choices and then traded from New England to the Rams for defensive end Rick Cash and a first round pick. As a Ram, he seemed truly at home once he settled in. He threw his body around with abandon and he was outstanding, taking over for Deacon Jones and playing the end opposite Jack Youngblood for much of his career. A consistent performer who rose to All Pro level, Dryer became the only NFL player to record two safeties in the same game, having done this on October 21, 1973 against the Packers. He sacked Green Bay quarterback Scott Hunter in the end zone and repeated his sack artistry by tossing down Hunter’s replacement, Jim Del Gazio shortly thereafter for another two-pointer. After scoring his first, and what came to be his only NFL touchdown by returning a twenty-yard  interception against the Eagles on November 3, 1975, in typical Dryer fashion, he stated, “If I score another touchdown, I’ll set my hair on fire in the end zone.” No one doubted that he had the potential to do just what he said! Dryer was a popular interview for his out-of-the-mainstream views and iconoclastic stance on many issues. At one time his diet included approximately seventy raw egg yolks per week and copious amounts of vegetables.

After thirteen solid NFL seasons Dryer retired with 104 sacks and would have been credited with more had this statistic been counted at the time he began his pro career. Perhaps with his mother, a former actress, as an inspiration, he entered the acting profession and scored big on the television series “Hunter”, playing a detective in this ultra-popular program. His athletic physique and handsome features made lead character “Rick Hunter” a world-wide icon. He followed up with other television series and a number of action packed movies and his athletic grace and appearance always translated to a high level of audience acceptance.

Dryer has continued his work within the industry, heading his own production company, but what occupies most of Fred's time is his new grand daughter who he just adores.  It’s unfortunate that so many of his fans forget that John Frederick “Fred” Dryer in addition to being so successful in front of and behind the cameras in Hollywood, was also an extremely successful and popular collegiate and professional football player.  It was such a pleasure to help Fred make a small dream come true and in the process... crossing off the list one of Helmet Hut's dreams.